Museology

Richard Ross, Author, Marcia Tucker, Adapted by, David Mellor, Adapted by Aperture $39.95 (79p) ISBN 978-0-89381-376-5
In these color photographs of art and natural history museums and their holdings, Ross, who teaches at UC Santa Barbara, wields considerable wit in constructing images of the institutions as we don't usually see them. In some cases, an animal's spirit is shown to have survived the taxidermist's art, flouting the authority of the knife (the face of a stuffed rhinoceros peers skeptically through glass, as though once again regnant). Elsewhere, held in suspended animation, victims in display cases seem sustained only by artifice, creating illusions of a perfectly orderly, hierarchical nature brought home to roost. In pure fun, Ross portrays a classical nude sculpture appearing to take cover from onlookers in a museum corner, and offers a delightful closeup of stuffed lions engaged in ferociously kitsch battle. But his thoughtful book, an exhibition catalogue, does more than amuse; it leaves readers with disquieting thoughts of predator and prey in museums and culture at large. (Apr.)
Reviewed on: 04/01/1989
Release date: 04/01/1989
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